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'The X Factor' Crowns A Winner!

By KRISTA WICK

December 20, 2012

And the $5 million recording contract goes to…

Tate Stevens! The 37-year-old country crooner beat out runner-up 13-year-old Carly Rose Sonenclar for the top prize Thursday night. 35 million votes were cast Wednesday to determine victory for L.A. Reid's mentee.

Near tears, the Raymore, Missouri native thanked his fans for their overwhelming support.

"This is the best day of my life," said an emotional Stevens.

Related: L.A. Reid To Leave 'X Factor'

Girl group Fifth Harmony, mentored by Simon Cowell, placed third in the competition.

Earlier in the night, the holiday themed finale saw performances by One Direction and Pitbull.

Auditions for an all-new season of The X Factor USA have already begun online. In-person auditions will start on March 6, 2013 in Los Angeles.

The celebrity judging panel has yet to be announced, but L.A. Reid has already taken himself out of the running. Spears has expressed interest in returning to the show for season three, but nothing has been confirmed.

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